Intro – We all have suffered from pain in the back at some time or another. But what causes it? How to treat it? And how can it be prevented? Read on…
Backpain is perhaps the most common of conditions, after a common cold. We all experience it from time to time and, more often than not, try treating it on our own. From chronic back pain to muscle spasms, from the use of OTC painkillers to hot/cold fermentation… we have Dr (Maj) Pankaj Surange, from the IPSC INDIABest Intervention Pain and Spine Treatment Clinic, FIPP Director, IPSC India Chairman, WIP, India Section Founder Member, MSK Ultrasound Society, telling us all about what exactly constitutes backpain, different types and how we can prevent it.
Question – How does one know if back pain one is experiencing is serious or not?
Answer – Perfect question! Back pain is one of the most common complaints. Any pain originating from the back and radiating to any other area, abdomen, hips or legs, etc, should be treated immediately. Any tingling sensation, numbness or heaviness is also a serious condition.
There are multiple causes for back pain, especially lower back pain. It has to be checked what the source of the back pain is; is it from the bone, ligaments, nerves or muscles? This is checked by the expert doctor. If the pain is coming from a muscle, it wont be that serious. However if it is coming from bones or joints in the back, it has to be checked thoroughly.
Q- How can a patient understand himself where is back pain originating from?
A – For a healthy person, any new occurrences of back pain can be associated with an event. For instance, lifting something heavy. In these types of instances, a person can take an OTC (Over The Counter) painkiller drug, take rest and use heat pads. But if it is not cured in a day, he should immediately consult a doctor. In case of any radiating/travelling pain, an immediate consultation should be sought, no self-medication should be done in such a case.
Q – What are other ways of treating pain apart from OTC medicines?
A – This is an individual case dependency. Every individual knows if resting, sitting, walking is giving them relief or not. It happens that a person may feel pain while resting while not feeling pain while walking. So the individual should walk, because it might release the spasm naturally and conveniently. Whatever aggravates the pain, should be avoided.
Q – Any stretches or exercises to release back pain?
A- Any exercises or stretches should be avoided in acute cases. However, in regular cases, strengthening and stretching exercises are good.
Q – Any advice for people into heavy exercises for OTC or pain ointment or spray use?
A – They can be safely used. But if you need them for extended periods of time then you might be supressing it. You must consult a doctor immediately.
Q – How does Volini Spray or Moov Spray or an ointment work?
A- They don’t penetrate the skin, the way it is shown in advertisements. It gives momentary relief because it deviates the mind by giving a tingling sensation in that area, rather than the pain which you were feeling earlier.
Q- Any advice for people who avoid medicines?
- A very good question. There are people who say they don’t believe in taking medicines. It should not be done, because at times there are cases where that might lead to a vicious circle. If there’s a muscle spasm, and one doesn’t take medicines, there will be more pain, and that more pain may cause more spasms and this will result in making the situation worse and creating a chronic condition. One should consult the doctor in such times. It is highly advised that one take prescribed medicines before the conditions grows into a chronic one.
Q- What is the difference between cold and hot packs? When are the two respectively needed?
A – A gel hating pad is need for muscle spasms. If you have a muscle spasm, go for hot fermentation. For any chronic joint pain, both are equally effective. In case of any inflammation, especially after an injury, if there is any redness or swelling, never ever apply hot fermentation. It’s already hot inside, it will aggravate the pain inside.
Q- Please tell us about lifestyle related back pain issues.
A – We get a lot of cases now relating to back pain from young age patients (20-45 year olds, even teens). This is becoming very common. This is because of prolonged sitting hours and lifestyle disorders.
Our back is made up of a lot of small bones, spine, and discs and joints. They will remain healthy as long as they are in movements. If we keep them sedentary, they go intro degeneration. For instance, rubber in a tyre remains flexible till the time the tyre is being used. If it’s unused for long, it starts hardening, and then using them will crack it. Same happens with our spine.
Q – For people who have busy lifestyles, any quick exercises you’d suggest?
A- Firstly, no one is so busy that they cant take out time to exercise. You have to put effort into keeping yourself healthy if you want to live a better life ahead. We should stop giving excuses to ourselves that we are so busy.
Secondly, if you have working conditions where you have to sit for long, you should take a break for at least 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes. Get up, move around, stretch a bit so that your muscles don’t go into sleep phase. This will release the stress on your spine and joints.
Q – An advices for back related exercises?
A- Especially for middle aged people, who realise late in life that it is time to look after the body, and suddenly want to hit the gym, please note that it is a sudden shock to the ligaments. They are not used to take the load and you suddenly start stressing joints and ligaments by doing heavy exercises. This shouldn’t be done. Especially, for males, the organs start herniating, which may cause even more serious problems. People should do exercises under a proper trainer, understand the individual needs of their bodies, and look to build core muscles first.
Q – What is the best sleeping posture for the back?
A – There’s a common myth that we should sleep on hard floor. This has a story behind it. About three-four decades ago, we used to sleep on nylon cots, which used to get stretched from middle from regular use. That was the time when it was said that one should sleep on hard floor to maintain a better sleeping position. However, now when most of us are using proper mattresses and hard wood beds to sleep on, this practice is useless. A 40-density foam mattress is the best mattress you should use.
As for pillows, if you have neck pain and stop using pillows, you run the risk of damaging your spine more. You should take a pillow to keep your spine in a comfortable position.
Q – What is a back spasm?
A- If you put sudden pressure on your back, then the muscles try to protect the body. Our body has an internal system of protection through muscles. Muscle spasm in lower back may occur from some event. But if it is recurrent or it is not getting better for a long time, there is something serious and hence muscle is trying to protect something in the body. Therefore, it should be shown to doctor urgently. An expert pain specialist in Dwarka can examine and investigate and find out the real cause of the spasm.
Q – How can spasms be prevented?
A – If you’re not used to doing any physical activity and suddenly one day decide to exert your muscles, it is always advised to stretch properly and warm up before doing so.